Important decisions on the agenda as Council heads to Northern Ireland

Published on 19 May 2022

We’re asking our Council to approve our standards for specialist community nursing, specialist community public health nurses and associated programme standards, and give permission for two consultations.

Our Council will consider three important regulatory matters when it meets in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland (26 May). These are approval of our new post-registration standards, and permission to consult on proposed changes to pre-registration education programme standards, and English language requirements.

Post-registration standards

We’re asking Council to approve new standards of proficiency for future specialist community public health nurses (SCPHN), community nursing specialist practice qualifications (SPQs) and associated programme standards.

We began the programme to renew and update these standards in 2019, to reflect the changing landscape and ambition for the care and treatment of people in the community. The new standards are an opportunity for more professionals to develop a greater depth of knowledge and broader skills that really reflect the complexity, responsibility and diversity of modern community nursing and public health nursing practice.

We also introduced an additional specialist qualification in community nursing in health and social care, to reflect the additional roles that exist in the community and new ones that may emerge.

We gathered feedback from over 2,300 professionals and members of the public during the consultation. We were pleased that the vast majority of people responded positively to the proposed new standards.

Professor Geraldine Walters, Executive Director or Professional Practice at the NMC, said:

“It’s taken a lot of collaboration to reach this point and I’m so grateful to everyone who’s been involved. These new co-produced post-registration standards will give professionals the additional knowledge, skills and aptitude they need to provide specialist support and care to people in their homes and in the community.

“These standards will also help professionals to develop their careers and become the clinical leaders, educators and researchers of the future. Council approval of the standards would mark a significant milestone toward more modern, effective care for people in community settings and improved public health for our wider communities.

“They are also a forerunner to the work we are planning to do to explore advanced practice.”

Pre-registration education programme standards

We’re also seeking approval from Council to consult on proposed changes to our pre-registration education programme standards. These standards ensure that nursing and midwifery programmes support students to learn and achieve the knowledge and skills they’ll need to become registered professionals, and to deliver safe, effective and kind care.

Some of our current standards reflect EU law. But as the UK has left the EU, we can now change the EU requirements within our standards. Last year we carried out research, including a survey of professionals, the public and our partners, and we’re now proposing some changes we want to consult on.

These changes include more flexibility around simulated learning for nurses, and giving education providers more responsibility to set more inclusive entry requirements to programmes.

Professor Geraldine Walters, Executive Director of Professional Practice for the NMC, said:

"We want to improve our existing education programme standards to make them more flexible, and allow more innovation. This consultation will give people the opportunity to tell us what they think about the proposed changes, allowing us to refine them further.

“Modernising our pre-registration standards will mean educators can offer programmes with more flexibility for student learning, and widen participation. And it will make sure future nursing and midwifery professionals continue to graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to provide safe, effective and kind care.”

English language requirements

We’re asking Council to approve a consultation on proposed changes to our English language requirements, to make sure our processes are fair and reliable for everyone.

Everyone on our register must be able to communicate effectively in English. This is fundamental to high quality, person-centred care. Internationally trained applicants to our register can demonstrate their English language competence if they’ve trained in English, or undertaken regulated practice in English – or taken an approved English language test.

We know that some people have concerns about our current approach. To prepare for the consultation we held a listening event in November 2021, spoke with our Public Voice Forum in March 2022 and formed an external advisory group to help inform potential changes. Now we’re asking our Council to approve a consultation on our proposals.

Matthew McClelland, Executive Director of Strategy and Insight for the NMC, said:

“Of all health and care professionals, nurses, midwives, and nursing associates spend the most time with patients and people who use services. Effective communication is essential to delivering the safe, effective and kind care that people have a right to expect.

“We’re grateful to everyone who’s already shared their initial views, which have helped shape the options we’re proposing to consult on. We look forward to hearing more from the public, employers and our professionals to make sure our processes are fair and reliable for everyone.”

A modern, flexible regulator

Commenting on the papers being presented to Council, Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar at the NMC, said:

“The NMC is determined to be a modern, flexible regulator responding to the changing needs and ambitions of the UK public and the dedicated professionals on our register.  This comprehensive package of proposals for Council is the result of a tremendous amount of work from everyone involved.  I would like to thank Geraldine, Matthew and their teams for the way they have led and supported this work and to all our partners, professionals and members of the public who have been such an important part of our co-production effort.

“As a four country regulator, I’m delighted that this significant moment for the regulation of our professions is happening in Northern Ireland – the first Council meeting we’ve held outside of London since 2019 as a consequence of the pandemic.”


More information about our post-registration programme standards, pre-registration education programme standards, and English language review work can be found on our website.  


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